Project managers know that a typical workday can be filled with “exciting” events. While these events make the day pass quickly, they tend to put the PM in a “reactive” rather than a “proactive” state. Dealing with a steady parade of crises leaves little time for project management. Lets take a closer look at the causes of this situation and some ways to avoid becoming a victim of circumstance.
When we become immersed in a reactive environment it’s very difficult to apply the principles of good project management. Project management implies that we create a plan for how our project should proceed. We then make decisions that guide our project to a successful conclusion. When we shift to a reactive state, our attention becomes focused on the issue of the moment at the expense of longer term planning and thinking.
I once worked in an organization that was very chaotic and dysfunctional and where all PM’s managed multiple projects. One of my older colleagues used to say that as a PM sometimes you just need to be able to shut your door and think. Unfortunately most of us never had that opportunity and I’m sure our performance suffered as a result. There are many factors that contribute to creating this type of environment and the following are just a few:
- Managing multiple projects – At one organization, a colleague of mine was assigned seven projects shortly after she was hired. When she left the company (actually quit in frustration) she was responsible for seventeen. She told me that even at seven, all she had time to do was gather status, report status, and fight fires. No time to manage anything. As PM’s it’s often difficult to control the number of projects we are assigned but we should attempt to do so. As a manager of PM’s you should strive to keep that number to three or less.
- Culture focused on short-term goals – Many companies become focused on short-term results; monthly revenue, quarterly revenue, annual revenue. When management becomes focused on short-term goals it is often at the expense of the long-term health of the organization. Priorities tend to shift weekly which is devastating to good project management. Management should always try to maintain a long-term focus.
- Untrained PM’s – Experience is critical to successful project management but without training the PM will be much less effective. Most of the bad things that happen on projects are avoidable with proper planning. A PM who learned “on the job” is less likely to take the time to adequately plan out the project and will thus experience more crises during the project.
The workplace is a complex and dynamic environment. As such there are many things that contribute to the creation of an environment that is not conducive to good project management. Here we’ve taken a quick look at just three. Look for a detailed discussion of these and others in future posts. In the mean time please consider and share your thoughts on the following:
- Do you manage multiple projects and if so how does that impact your application of good project management practices?
- Does your organization tend to focus on short-term goals and if so how does that impact your ability to successfully manage your projects?
©2016 Joseph T Drammissi